For Taylour Wilde, life has been full of hardship and heartache since the day she was born. After growing up depending solely on her older brother, becoming self-sufficient and successful enough to return the affection is her number one goal.
Upon returning from college, she learns that her brother has found someone new to accommodate. When his vision gets blurred and lines get crossed, she’s forced to do the unthinkable in honor of him. But after he unexpectedly turns on her, she’s left feeling isolated and forced to search for new and meaningful relationships.
Kato is like a breath of fresh air that shows up just when she’s about to suffocate. He teaches her boundaries, pushes her to become emotionally independent, and motivates her as much as her brother did to get her where she is today. Still, he comes with his fair share of issues, and she can’t bring herself to completely commit. Him poking at her past is enough to run her away for good. But his aura is like a magnetic pull that she can’t escape. Will she finally be able to let someone in after being closed off for so long?
Find out on this Wilde ride, just how tailored for love someone can be.
“Taylour, come on if you wanna eat!” I looked up and picked up my pace once again to keep up with my older brother Jewels. At fifteen, he stood at 5’6 and made my twelve-year-old strides look like nothing. So, while he walked smoothly and at an even pace, as he always did, I struggled to keep up. Now I was at a light jog, it was the third time since we left grandma’s house that Jewels yelled at me to come on. I didn’t complain though, I never complained. Not to Jewels. He’s all I have. All I’ve really ever known. My big brother. My protector. My provider. I don’t know where I would be or what I would do without him.
We live with our mom, Iyana. But we mind as well live alone. She doesn’t pay me any attention, sometimes she’ll talk to Jewels though. I don’t know what I did to her, but we don’t have the typical mother and children bond like the kids I see in school or on tv. Jewels said she wasn’t always like that. He said she went off her rocker one day a couple years after I was born. He won’t tell me the whole story, but I guess he took over with me from there and I’m thankful he did because I probably wouldn’t have survived this long. If he decides he’s tired of dragging me along I probably won’t survive much longer, that’s why I never complain. I don’t know what I would do if my big brother left me.
“I’m sorry.” I said as I finally caught up with him at the end of the long line. We were at the Free Lunch program in the neighborhood Recreation center. They had them every weekend and anytime we had bus fare we got up early enough to get to grandma’s house to take warm showers then go.
Jewels side-eyed me but didn’t reply. He hated when I apologized for stupid stuff. I always did it. It’s just that everybody in our life are disappointments and I don’t want to be a disappointment to my brother because he’s the only person that isn’t one to me. No one really cares about us and even at twelve I could tell that. Not even our grandma who would open her door anytime we knocked and let us use her warm shower but wouldn’t dare let us live with her or even stay the night. Instead, she sends us back to a dirty, roach-infested house with no hot water, no food, and no money. I can tell she loves us, in a cold way but she doesn’t care. Nobody gives us money, but Jewels always does what he has to do—as he puts it—and comes up with money for us to get different things. I don’t know what to do for money, another reason I need Jewels, but I do wish I could be more help sometimes.
Luckily, today the line to get inside was moving fast and before we knew it, we were walking into the building. An older guy from the neighborhood that worked at the Rec center approached Jewels and dapped him up. I stopped when my brother did, and my stomach growled as I eyed the food just a few feet away.
“Wassup with chu’ young nigga. You ready to get to work?” I looked up at Jewels with a raised eyebrow. He didn’t tell me that he got a job and I thought we told each other everything. What was I going to do while he went to work? Jewels eyes drifted to me before they landed back on the man.
“Yeah, let me get up with you later though. I got to get the lil’ one something to eat.” He reached out and gripped my hand, pulling me behind him in a protective manner.
“Aite.” The man nodded before leaning down to whisper in my brother’s ear. I watched Jewels nod his head in approval before he was pulling me towards the food. I couldn’t help but wonder what that conversation was about. I never complained, but I did ask questions and that was something I would bring up later.
After we ate our lunch, that consisted of a personal cheese pizza, a bag of grapes, chocolate milk, an apple juice, and a bag of chips. My belly was fuller than it had been all week and all I wanted was to relax in a warm bed but I knew that was wishful thinking so I would settle for my bed. I was surprised when we didn’t head straight to the bus stop and instead went towards grandmas. Jewels knocked on the door and as soon as she opened it, she started to go in on us.
“Uh uh, now ya’ll know ya’ll can’t be chilling in here all day trying to stay the night! My children are grown.”
“Grandma, chill. We’re not trying to stay the night. Taylour has school tomorrow, I don’t have no money now, but I’ll pay you when I can if you can do her hair.” I watched my brother plead. My grandma’s eyes traveled to me and when they caught mine, I looked away. I hated feeling like a charity case. But I appreciated my brother’s effort because I hated going to school with my long hair in a nappy, frizzy ponytail even more.
“Come on.” She moved to the side and let us in the house. I went straight towards the couch and sat on the floor, where I always sat when she did my hair. Jewels went upstairs, coming back down moments later with a bookbag slung over his shoulder.
“I’ll be back to get her when you’re done.” He was out the door before anyone could reply. My heart started to beat wildly, and my palms started to sweat. Jewels had never left me alone with anyone and I was nervous about how it would go. What would I do if things turned bad? My grandma came with all the supplies she needed in her hands and sat behind me.
“You know Taylour, I never wanted kids.” She blurted out as she removed my scrunchie from my hair and started to massage my scalp. I nodded quickly not knowing what to say. I mean, clearly, she didn’t want grandchildren so I could assume she didn’t want children either.
“I didn’t,” she continued. “I wasn’t like other little girls, who dreamed of having families and being someone’s wife. Most women don’t realize how hard it is to be a parent until they actually have to do it. It was like I already knew it was hard and I wanted no parts. I had just lost my virginity when I got pregnant with your mom. I didn’t want to keep her. I wanted an abortion but when the doctor explained the procedure to me, I just couldn’t go through with it. So, I had her. Her father left me alone and I was so cold to her from the moment she was born until this day. I don’t know if he was the reason, but I never understood why I couldn’t love her the way my mother loved me. I was raised by good loving parents but for some reason I couldn’t be that.” She started to cough uncontrollably, and I tilted my head, trying not to catch any germs.
“Are you okay?” I asked when she finally got herself together. She just nodded and waved for me to bring my head back towards her. I did and she got back to work on braiding my hair.
“I couldn’t be that to her and now she can’t be that to you all. I could be a better grandma, but I just don’t know how, this is just who I am, who I’ve always been… cold.” The coughing started again and this time she had to excuse herself to get water so she could get it under control. When she came back, she started to talk again. I was surprised because it was the most, she had ever spoken to me.
“I’m sorry Taylour. Ya’ll are good kids, and you deserve better people raising you.” Tears filled my eyes, but I didn’t say anything. What was I supposed to say? It’s okay? It’s definitely not okay, all this time she knew how she was doing us, knew how messed up it was, and didn’t care to change. Still doesn’t care to change. She didn’t ask how she could fix things. She apologized. Yeah, well apology not accepted. I didn’t say any of that though. I just silently wiped the tears that threatened to fall. She didn’t deserve my tears or my sympathy.
Later that night we were on the bus on our way back home and I was checking myself out in the window while Jewels toyed with a new prepaid phone he got. I always loved when I got my hair braided. It reminded me that even though stuff was ugly in my life, I remained pretty through it all.
“You look beautiful Tay. Now could you sit back and get out of the window.” Jewels chuckled as he stuffed his phone into his pocket.
“Why didn’t you tell me you had a job?” I had been waiting on the perfect moment to bring it up all day. Now it was just me and him. He sucked his teeth.
“It’s not important. It’s just a lil’ job running some errands for the niggas around the way.”
“Your selling drugs?” I whispered.
“No.” He paused and looked around. “Taylour, mind your business. Just know that I got us. You focus on school and using that big brain of yours to get us up out of here. Aite?” I nodded, not wanting to put up much more of a fight. I never wanted him to deal drugs because I was too scared of losing him to jail. But if I didn’t know anything, I knew my brother was smart and he’d do anything to make sure we were straight.
By the time we made it home it was almost ten at night. After changing into my night clothes, I settled in the living room to watch tv until it was time for me to go to bed. Jewels came in with four Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. He handed me two and settled on the other couch with his two. We ate in silence as we watched reruns of Modern Family. It was the only decent show we had since we didn’t have cable.
“Taylour! Come here for a second.” My mom’s voice made me jump a little. One, we never knew when she was home because she stayed in her room and two, she never called me by name, I was always just her or little girl. I guess all kinds of weird things were happening between her and her mom today. I looked over at Jewels who smiled back at me. He knew how much I craved her attention and rejoiced at any small amount she gave me.
“Go see what she wants.” I stare at him for a second in disbelief. That feeling was coming again. My heart rate going up and my palms starting to sweat. “I’ll be right down here if you need me.” He continued in attempt to comfort me, and it worked because before I knew it, I was on my feet and headed upstairs to her room.
“Come in here,” she stepped aside and let me in her room. “I want you to meet Mr. Marcus.” I didn’t notice him until she said something, but there was a big black man lying on her bed in his boxers with no shirt. When my eyes landed on his face he smirked. My mom grabbed my hand, led me to the bed, and sat me down.
“He just wants to give you a little kiss, okay?” I looked up into her face. It was the first time I realized how bad off she was.
Kids in school teased me about having a crackhead mom but I always ignored it. Now I knew that’s exactly what she was on. Her brownskin that usually shined bright was pale and ashy looking. The thick curly hair that I inherited was matted in a ponytail like she hadn’t washed it in months. I sat there in shock not knowing what to say. I should have told her no. I should have ran out of there or yelled for my brother, but I didn’t. I just sat there.
“While you kiss on her I’m going to go get that stuff for us, okay baby?” She turned her attention to him and flashed a dirty smile, crumbling some money in her hand.
“Yeah, you do that.” He groaned and my stomach churned. Tears fell from my eyes and when Iyana saw them, she stopped in her tracks.
“Come on little girl, I’m your momma I wouldn’t let nobody hurt you. Stop all that crying.” Before I could respond she left the bedroom. I heard the front door slam and more tears streamed down my face. The man touched my arm, snapping me out of my break down. I turned to look at him in disgust.
“Aw don’t worry lil’ mama,” he sat up. “I’m not here to hurt you.” He leaned in and licked my neck. I felt my skin crawl as I screamed as loud as can. My brother said he’d be right there, and I knew he would come to my aid.
The man cocked back and punched me in my eye. I saw blue sparks and immediately felt it swell. He gripped me up and threw me beneath him. I fought against him as he struggled to get my pants down and all I could think about was my brother. He said he’d be there for me, and he wasn’t. Why wasn’t he here? Just as the thought crossed my mind a loud gunshot sounded off, then another before the man fell on top of me. I pushed myself from under him and locked eyes with Jewels, who held a smoking gun.
“Is he dead?” He asked me never taking his eyes of the man. I shrugged my shoulders like he could see me because I couldn’t find the words to speak. My eyes trailed over to the man whose body laid lifelessly a few inches away.
“I’m sorry.” It was the first thing that came to my mind to say. Now, my brother would probably go to jail because of me. “If I wouldn’t have screamed—”
“Don’t you dare!” Jewels yelled as he ran towards me and gripped my face in his hands so aggressively that it hurt. It was then I realized he was crying just as hard as me. “Don’t you dare fucking apologize for that shit. That wasn’t your fault, and I was headed up here to check on you anyway. That nigga was a dead man regardless and don’t you dare blame yourself for that!” I nodded as more tears fell down my face. “I’m sorry,” he hugged me and kissed my temple three times. “I’m sorry I let that happen to you baby girl.”
“Nothing happened. You were there.”
“Yeah, but it almost happened! And I…” He paused and took a deep breath. “I need you to help me.” I knew he was changing the subject, but I didn’t ask why.
“We got to get this body out of here and dip before Iyana comes back.” I just nodded to confirm I was down to help. I couldn’t formulate the words, but I’d never leave my brother hanging. Jewels stood up, put some sheets on the floor, and grabbed the man’s feet pulling him to the floor. I jumped at the loud thump even though I had been anticipating it. “We can’t drag him Taylour, blood will be everywhere. I need you to lift the bottom half of the sheets.”
I watched Jewels take more sheets from the bed and wrap the body in them. I took a deep breath. I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to contemplate so I got up and grabbed the sheets, crying hysterically. Jewels picked up the upper half and I tried my best to lift the bottom half. My sobs made it hard for me to be any good help. But there wasn’t any blood on the floor, so I guess it was working for Jewels. I didn’t know where we were going to take him, I just hoped it was close.
“Jewels.” I cried knowing I wouldn’t be able to handle his weight much longer.
“Calm down baby girl. We’re going take him down the steps I need you to lift him up Taylour. You got this. Just to the dining room, right at the bottom of the steps.” I nodded and put more effort into lifting the body.
Once we got him into the dining room Jewels gave me a garbage bag and told me to put my blood covered clothes in there. I ran upstairs and changed with precision, making sure not to get blood anywhere, and urgency. When I got back downstairs, Jewels had rolled the man’s body up in our throw rug. Next, we struggled to carry him into our back alley further down from our house. Jewels drench the rug and garbage with my clothes in Iyana’s perfume and set it on fire. We headed in the opposite direction of our house and never looked back. My brother killed someone for me. I never asked how he knew so much about getting rid of dead bodies, I didn’t care. I just knew my loyalty had always been with him, but after that night I wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever to make sure he’s straight.